Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillén was fired Tuesday after just one season with the club.
Chalk it up as another loss for Miami, which went 69-93 this season. The team will pay Guillén the remaining $8 million left on the four-year contract he signed with the Marlins last fall.
While the firing was far from unexpected – social media speculation had been growing for weeks – the move marked the official end of a relationship that had seemed so promising a year ago.
The Marlins were looking to redefine themselves: new name, new logo, new ballpark, new manager. The hope was that the outspoken and entertaining Guillén would inject some much-needed excitement into a team that had struggled to stand out, despite having won two relatively recent World Series titles.
However, Guillén's tenure in Miami looked doomed almost from the first pitch. Just days after the season opened, Guillén made comments about Cuba’s Fidel Castro in Time magazine that caused an uproar. The manager issued a public apology and was suspended for five games. Reportedly, the team felt the fallout from those comments continue throughout the season.
The comments were certainly inadvisable, but Guillén creating controversy is nothing new. His ability to grab and generate headlines (for better or worse) has long been part of his persona. That’s in part what made him so attractive to the Marlins.
Things didn’t get much better from there.
Look yourself in the mirror and ask why so many [bleeping] managers come through here.
- Ozzie Guillen
The team spent heavily last offseason, committing over $190 million on shortstop Jose Reyes, closer Health Bell and pitcher Mark Buehrle only to dwell in the NL East basement for much of 2012.
The Marlins, a team that has historically struggled with fan turnout, had great expectations after opening their new ballpark. And while attendance in 2012, jumped to 27,400 (18th in MLB) from 19,007 (28th) in 2011, the team fell short of its goals.
By mid-September, the split between Guillén and Miami became inevitable when the manager lashed out at the club’s owner.
“If Jeffrey [Loria] doesn’t think I’m doing the job I should do ... it’s not the first time he has fired a manager,”Guillén said, addressing rumors of his impending dismissal. “Look yourself in the mirror and ask why so many [bleeping] managers come through here.”
Managerial candidates might be asking the same thing as the Marlins are left to search for their fifth manager since 2010. Finding someone willing to fill that void could pose a challenge considering Loria’s reputation. Since he took ownership of the Marlins in 2002, the team has had seven managers. The man who follows Guillén will be No. 8.
“There’s not a manager dead or alive that Jeffrey thinks is good enough. Not [legendary Hall of Fame manager] Connie Mack, not anyone,” former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez told the Miami Herald in September of Loria’s unrealistic standards.
That’s not a resounding endorsement as Miami looks to woo a new manager to take the helm.
As for Guillén, he’ll be fine. He took to Twitter to reassure his fans as much, saying that he’s been through worse and is leaving the Marlins with his “head held up high.”
These comments won’t be the last we hear from Guillén. After all, he is still a World Series-winning manager, having led the White Sox to a title in 2005. He has a huge fan base for a manager and is closing in on 300,000 followers on Twitter. He also has experience as a TV analyst.
Guillén walks away from Miami richer and feeling secure about his future. The same can’t be said about the Marlins.
Maria Burns Ortiz is a freelance sports journalist, chair of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' Sports Task Force, and a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. Follow her on Twitter: @BurnsOrtiz